First, happy Imbolc! See below for my invitation to our observance held tomorrow, 2 February, at 4:30 pm Pacific!
This month has been all about capacity. What I have and what I don’t have. This week, even more so.
So what do you do when you’re maxed out, when you realize you’ve hit the place where, if you go further, if you take on more commitments, you’ll start really dropping the ball?
There is a difference between remembering just before you have a meeting and getting to the meeting and being habitually late for meetings. Someone told me today, “[congregational] ministers are always late.” She’s talking about how meetings tend to run into one another; a pastoral care visit turns into an emergent situation, just before a Board meeting; a worship team meeting is scheduled right up against a committee meeting, and there’s just nothing for it, you have to go to the bathroom before you can run down the hall.
And it’s not (of course) ministers who are living life like this.
It’s so many of us. Of you.
Some of you tell me about the pressures in your work and family lives, and I hear it over and over again: I’m so overwhelmed.
My wife gave me a bit of advice last week on this topic of overwhelm: Write it all down. This advice is reminiscent of advice I’ve received over and over again, which is to externalize what I’m carrying around in my head and is stressing me out.
So I wrote it all out. Everything I could think of that I was carrying around in my brain that requires my attention or action. Every. Thing. Did I mention Every. Little. Thing?
I’m sure a missed a few, and yet, when I was finished, my journal book was filled, margin-to-margin with five pages of things I needed to do. And then I filled a page with the things I needed to do in the following two days.
As my therapist pointed out, I wasn’t overwhelmed because I was pathologically anxious. I was overwhelmed because I had too much to do.
Are you overwhelmed? Do you feel as though you could burn out at any second, or just snap and start dropping the juggling balls all ove the place?
Take it all out of your head and write it down. (This advice, by the way, is in additional to using other planning, calendaring, or task tools you already have.) Write it down longhand, unless writing longhand is painful or not feasible for you.
And then, perhaps, (she wrote to herself), consider how it is you’re saying yes, and what you’re saying no to by saying yes so much.
In my case, I’ve been saying no to the rest I need. I’ve been saying no to remembering to take the meds I take to keep my mood stable and well. I’ve been saying no to doing as much as I’d like to of my family’s organizing and tidying project.
Every yes, every choice we make, is another choice we don’t make.
And just because one is good at something, enthusiastic about something, or feels as though one should do something…none of these are necessarily reasons to put something on the schedule.
So for now, I’m asking myself why am I scheduling things. I’m checking in with myself, which means I’m checking in with Heart, Head, and Belly Minds. And I’m checking in wth my wisest advisor outside myself.
What does your schedule look like? How would you like it to look? What can you do to move it one more hour toward the life-giving schedule you deserve.
Some thoughts for this week I hope help you as they’re helping me.
PS — Imbolc begins today, the fire festival sacred to the goddess and saint of Ireland, Brigid. She is the keeper of the Forge, of Poetic Imagination and Inspiration, and the Powers of Healing. Come to Her sacred well, come tend Her sacred fire with us as we enter into a meditation and discussion on these holy days. Click here to get all the info!